The Situationist

Archive for December 5th, 2008

The Situational Consequences of Consumption

Posted by The Situationist Staff on December 5, 2008

Douglas Kysar and Michael Vandenbergh have just posted a fascinating paper, “Climate Change and Consumption,” on SSRN.  Here’s the abstract.

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To achieve the level of greenhouse gas emissions reductions called for by climate change experts, officials and policy analysts may need to develop an unfamiliar category of regulated entity: the consumer. Although industrial, manufacturing, retail, and service sector firms undoubtedly will remain the focus of climate change policy in the near term, individuals and households exert a greenhouse footprint that seems simply too large for policymakers to ignore in the long term. This paper, written as a foreword for the Environmental Law Reporter’s symposium issue, “Climate Change and Consumption,” emerges from an interdisciplinary conference of the same title held at Vanderbilt University in April 2008. The paper begins by providing an overview of the limited role that consumer behavior and decision making has played in environmental law to date. It then describes theoretical and empirical frameworks for understanding the consumer and consumption that could be deployed to inform law and policy if, as we predict, the consumer becomes a much more significant target of environmental regulation. The paper concludes by summarizing the symposium articles, which range widely across disciplines and areas of focus, but which reflect a common belief that the carbon-constrained consumer is worthy of significant academic and policy attention.

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For some related Situationist posts, see ” The Situation of Ethical Consumption” and “The Need for a Situationist Morality.”

Posted in Abstracts, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Situation of Genocide

Posted by The Situationist Staff on December 5, 2008

nazi-imageCourtney Yager of CNN has an interesting piece on the work of Harvard University psychiatrist Robert Lifton, who has studied the psychology of genocides and found that situational factors can lead any human to partake in genocides.  Yager discusses the work of other social scientists who have come to similar conclusions.  We excerpt the story below.

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Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Slobodan Milosevic. They are household names, infamous for masterminding genocide. But who were the foot soldiers who did the dirty work?

In many cases they were equally notorious in their communities because they were the friends, neighbors and co-workers of those they raped, slaughtered and buried alive.

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Researchers say most perpetrators of genocide were not destined for murder and had never killed before.

“You don’t have to be mentally ill or even innately evil or criminal. You can be ordinary, no better or worse than you or me, and commit killing or genocide,” said Harvard psychiatrist Robert Lifton, who has studied Nazi doctors.

“The truth is that we all have the possibility for genocidal behavior.”

Experts have reached a troubling conclusion: It was actually very easy for the architects of genocide to find more than enough ordinary people to do the killing.

Genocide is often the result of a “perfect storm.” A country reeling from political and economic turmoil, a fanatical leader promising to make things better and a vulnerable population targeted for blame — all combine in a blueprint for mass murder.

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For the rest of the story, click here.  For other Situationist posts related to genocide, click here.

Posted in History, Life, Public Policy | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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